Killed fisherman Sekar was to get married soon

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Fisherman A. Sekar, killed Monday in the firing by US naval ship off the Dubai coast, was planning to return home and get married.

He had promised his mother only a couple of days ago that as soon as his employer returned his passport, he would fly back to marry and settle down in his Thoppuvalasai village near Ramnad.

But as fate would have it, the 29-year-old took the .50 calibre machine gun bullet from USNS Rappahannock and collapsed dead on the deck of that little fishing trawler.

His relatives wailed, “We are shattered. The state and central governments should help us get his body home. The family needs adequate compensation”, said Sekar’s uncle Ponnandi, adding that Sekar’s employer was not paying his wages regularly. His father Arumugam is working in a steel factory in Brunei.

While Sekar died in the firing, his mates Muthumuniaraj, 27, of Karaiyur, Pandukanathan, 26 and Muthukannan, 35, of Mullimunai took bullet hits in their legs and hip, according to information reaching their relatives here.

“Life is tough here. We work long hours and earn around 1000-1200 Dirhams (around Rs 15,000) a month”, said M. Haridas of Ramnad, while attending on friend Muthumuniraj in the ICU of a Dubai hospital. “Both his legs are in bandages. They have removed some bullets and he is in great pain”, he said in a phone interview.

According to Haridas, his injured friends told him that the ill-fated trawler had six TN fishermen and two Emiratis.

“The Emiratis were at the wheel and they were moving fast. This incident might not have happened if only they had slowed down a bit”, he said.

It is quite common to find men in several fishermen’s families in this region working in faraway countries hoping to save substantial sums for the family while protecting themselves from the frequent skirmishes at the hands of the Sri Lankan Navy in Palk Bay.

Also, the fishing zone has bene progressively shrinking after the Centre announced Gulf of Mannar as a marine biosphere reserve and prohibited fishing in its islands.

The wailing of mourners could be heard from afar as journalists descended on Thoppuvalasai. Sobbing relatives sought government’s intervention to 'get justice'.

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